Vanderbilt explodes past Auburn, 77-60

AUBURN—Like the famous local oak trees, Vanderbilt's players must have felt like they had been poisoned in the first half, hitting just 28 percent of their three pointers. However, for the second straight game the Commodores' John Jenkins came alive in the second half scoring 22 points while Jeff Taylor added 20 as Vanderbilt notched its second straight road win with a 77-60 win over the Tigers.

After nine ties and a messy back-and-forth game in which neither team ever led by more than four points, Vanderbilt exploded for a 23-4 run that propelled the Commodores to their 20th victory and eighth conference win of the season.

Jeffery Taylor, who had struggle shooting the ball since scoring 19 points in the Kentucky win, got the run going with the score tied at 42 and 14:21 remaining in the game. Brad Tinsley converted on a 3-point play after scoring on a driving layup and being fouled. The 5-point lead was Vanderbilt biggest of the game.

A free throw and later a layup by Taylor increased the Commodore lead to 50-42 with 12:21 to go. Taylor added another layup with 9:20 remaining to extend the VU lead to 14. Jenkins, who made 5-of-11 three pointers including three in the second half, gave Vandy its biggest lead of the game at 19 when his trey swished the basket with 6:38 to go which ended the long VU run. However, the damage was done to the home team as the Tigers would never again pull within 14 of the Commodores.

During the second half Vanderbilt shot a sizzling 71 percent from 3-point land and 60 percent from the field after shooting just 36 percent in the first half.

Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings was pleased to see Taylor get it together after struggling to score over the past two games.

"He missed some shots again, but instead of letting it get to him, he kept playing, and he kept playing well," said Stallings. "He kept defending well, and then he started making shots. He's such an important player for us, and it was really nice to see him bounce back and have success today."

Auburn head coach Tony Barbee was impressed with Vanderbilt's second half shooting but attributed the Tiger loss to his team's large number of turnovers.

"They made shots in the second half," said Barbee. "We can give them credit there, but I thought our offense just made some horrible decisions. We had a team that didn't press us one possession, but we had 19 turnovers."

Vanderbilt improves to 20-6 (8-4 SEC). The Commodores will host Tennessee on Saturday at Memorial Gym. On Saturday the Vols were upset in Knoxville on by Georgia, 69-63.

Auburn, who was led in scoring by Earnest Ross with 20, fell to 9-17 (2-10 SEC). The Tigers will visit Alabama on Wednesday. Vanderbilt now leads its all-time series with the Tigers, 81-51.

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